On 31 January 2019, the first graduates passed the final exam of the innovation course ‘TUSI – Tunnel Safety in Construction and Operation’. It was the crowning highlight of a joint research project between several academic and industrial partners active in the tunneling business that started back in 2017. JES Managing Director René Jung and Project Manager Georg Lienbacher now have the professional skills of an ‘Academic Tunnel Safety Expert’.
Many companies in Austria have specialised in innovative technologies for construction and operation of tunnels. For a comprehensive safety solution for construction and operation knowledge about the whole process of building and operating a tunnel is required. Tunnel safety is an interdisciplinary topic: not only the tunnel and its equipment, also the users and their vehicles, the operation and incident management are closely linked.
The project ‘TUSI – Tunnel Safety in Construction and Operation’ was aimed to strengthen innovation competences in organisations involved in the planning, construction and operation of tunnels by creating a certified training programme and to further improve the safety of tunnels over the entire life cycle. The pilot course included 19 academic and industrial partners as well as fire brigades – the Montanuniversität Leoben, chair of Subsurface Engineering with Prof. Robert Galler as coordinator, Fogtec, NET-Automation, Hottinger Baldwin Messtechnik, Sandvik, JES Elektrotechnik, Wimmer Felstechnik, Geoconsult, ILF Consulting Engineers, TU Graz, Dräger, Geodata, PORR, AQUASYS, Dürr Austria, IBS, Berufsfeuerwehr Linz, AUVA, FVT – and consisted of 9 modules dealing with planning, construction and operation of tunnels.
Beside the theoretical training the modules helped to establish a network and to exchange of experience among the participating partners to promote new technologies and processes to improve tunnel safety. The performance of training units at the Zentrum am Berg and transfer projects as part of the course ensured that the learnt knowledge can also be applied in practice. The training was concluded by a final exam in front of a commission and a personal certification according ISO 17024 level 5. Future plans include the establishment of a post-graduate master’s programme in tunnel safety at the MU Leoben.